The 2017 World Series time machine seemed to go back, with an audience that dwarfed NFL games and the Astros winning by using the outdated process of letting the team’s starting pitchers back each other up instead of relying on modern relievers’ roles.
The team boasting no Fall Classic wins entering this postseason shocked comedian George Lopez, Dodgers’ closer Kenley Jensen, and seemingly all of Los Angeles by winning a World Series title. Paper City reported that comedian Lopez and Jansen (1.32 ERA and converted 41 of 42 saves this season) gave the Astros little chance of winning Game 7, ironic since the Astros scored on Jansen in three consecutive games to break the Dodgers’ streak of 28-straight scoreless innings by relievers.
For all the modern sabermetrics that propelled the Houston Astros from one of baseball’s worst teams ever in 2014 to World Series Champion, as predicted by Sports Illustrated, the team skipped the practice of bringing in one relief pitcher after another.
Instead, manager AJ Hinch only let the relief corp from the season pitch 16 of the last 80 innings by instead relying on the five-man rotation from the season (Justin Verlander, Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers, Charlie Morton and Brad Peacock). The results proved Hinch’s old-school approach to be the difference, and the relief corps from the season would have set a record for the worst ERA in any World Series if not for the starters who doubled as relievers:.
|Astros Pitching last 9 gms||IP||ERA||WHIP|
|Regular 5-man rotation||64||2.69||0.90|
|Major League Average||4.35||1.34|
Verlander and Peacock combined in Game 6 against the Yankees until the Dodgers jumped ahead 7-1 in the bottom of the eighth and struggling closer Ken Giles pitched a mop up inning. None of the season relievers took the hill in the Game 7 clincher, as Morton (5 innings) and McCullers (4 innings) combined on a shut out, as though the two starters were starting two separate games.
Peacock almost matched McCuller’s feat when he pitched the final 3 2/3rds innings, tying the record for the longest save in World Series history, to back up Morton in a Game 3 win of the World Series. In the final game Morton reversed roles, finishing a game McCullers started including the final three scoreless innings to end the World Series while the relievers from the season watched.
George Springer’s five home runs earned him the World Series MVP and led a team that stunned the Dodgers’ bullpen that had been untouchable. Springer’s plate exploits included a leadoff double and then home run in the Astros 5-1 in the decisive Game 7. For all the talk about the home-field advantage for the Dodgers, the Astros’ win means the visiting team has actually gone 55-54 in Game 7 match-ups in baseball playoff history.